VOTED #1 FANTASY FOOTBALL SITE
1998, 1999, 2000, 2001 & 2002
PRIORITY NEWS   MESSAGE BOARDS JOIN   
HOME ARTICLES STATISTICS WEEKLY FEATURES TEAM LINKS NFL RESOURCES  
Behind the Iron Curtain - Week 17
By Dave Foral
December 26, 2003
 

While most leagues have concluded their seasons, some of you are playing in your Super Bowl this weekend. Typically, the downfall of having the final game played in Week 17 the chance that key fantasy personnel would see limited or no time on the field if, A) the team wants to rest them for the playoffs, or B) if the team was out of the playoff race and has little to play for. While option B is still a concern this year, option A really isn't as most playoff or Wildcard teams are still jockeying to either secure a spot or for the most ideal scenario (first round bye, home field advantage, etc.). Even if a playoff team has nothing to gain/lose this week (Denver Broncos), it still wants to carry positive momentum into the postseason. When analyzing your roster this week, include the team's motivation as one of the determining criteria.

Keep in mind that there are Saturday games this weekend - be sure to have your line ups prepared accordingly. Best of luck!

Linebackers

WHO'S HOT

No one has been hotter than Keith Brooking, Atlanta Falcons, in the past few weeks.

Brooking is the prototypical MLB and has a natural instinct for the ball, flowing with the play, and being in the mix on every defensive down. Against the Buccaneers, he was awesome tallying 11 solo and 1 assisted tackles. Brooking is a lock to start in Week 17, and is sure to be a top 5 fantasy LB drafted in 2004. Good players step up when they're needed, and Willie McGinest, New England Patriots, is a clutch player who had a stellar effort against the Jets in Week 16. McGinest posted great fantasy numbers across the board, netting 7 solo and 3 assisted tackles, a sack, an interception, and a forced fumble. While the future is unclear for McGinest, as Rosie Colvin will be back in 2004, he's a pretty solid starter for your fantasy team in Week 17. Speaking of the future, it's looking pretty bright for Boss Bailey, Detroit Lions. The Lions will be an improved team in 2004, and Bailey will be a solid contributor, posting numbers similar to what Chris Claiborne did before moving to the Vikings this year. We saw glimpses of Bailey's talent this year, including last week's performance against Carolina, where he racked up 12 solo tackles. I project Bailey to be a solid 3rd or possibly even 2nd tier LB in 2004. Other LB's of note in Week 16: Shelton Quarles, TB Bucs; Dhani Jones, NY Giants; Terrell Suggs, BAL Ravens; LaVar Arrington, WAS Redskins; James Farrior, PIT Steelers; London Fletcher, BUF Bills; Anthony Simmons, SEA Seahawks; Akin Ayodele, JAX Jaguars; David Thornton, IND Colts; and Eric Barton, OAK Raiders.

WHO'S NOT

Carlos Emmons, Philadelphia Eagle, was placed on IR after breaking his fibula against the 49ers in Week 16. The Eagles will definitely miss their 3rd leading tackler on the team, and will backfill-by-committee, including Justin Ena and Ike Reese, neither of which make for dependable starts in Week 17. Chris Claiborne, Minnesota Vikings, is listed as questionable after twisting his ankle versus the Chiefs in Week 16. Claiborne is a stud-quality linebacker, but has been plagued by injury this year - this will likely have a negative impact on where he will be positioned in 2004's pre-draft rankings. Peter Bouleware, Baltimore Ravens, is also listed as questionable after having twisted his knee against the Browns last week. With the Ravens playing for a division title, expect Bouleware to play, but seek out another starter if you're playing in your league Super Bowl this weekend.

START 'EM IF YOU GOT 'EM

Tedy Bruschi, NE Patriots, against the BUF Bills
Anthony Simmons, SEA Seahawks, against the SF 49ers
Jeremiah Trotter, WAS Redskins, against the PHI Eagles
Shawn Barber, KC Chiefs, against the CHI Bears
Brian Simmons, CIN Bengals, against the CLE Browns
Dat Nguyen, DAL Cowboys, against the NO Saints
David Thornton, IND Colts, against the HOU Texans
Keith Brooking, ATL Falcons, against the JAX Jags
Zach Thomas, MIA Dolphins, against the NY Jets
Keith Bulluck, TEN Titans, against the TB Bucs
Will Witherspoon, CAR Panthers, against the NY Giants
Nick Barnett, GB Packers, against the DEN Broncos
Donnie Edwards, SD Chargers, against the OAK Raiders
Ray Lewis, BAL Ravens, against the PIT Steelers

Defensive Linemen

WHO'S HOT

Michael Strahan, New York Giants, has been incredible this year, and will head into Week 17 setting his sights on becoming the 2004 leader in sacks. After compiling only 11 in 2002, Strahan is sitting on 17 and has a comfortable 2 sack lead over the next player. If he has another game like he had against the Cowboys in Week 16 (3 solo and 1 assisted tackles, and 3 sacks), he could eclipse 20 sacks in 2003. Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila, Green Bay Packers, enjoyed a similar outing in Week 16 against the Raiders, posting 4 solo tackles and 3 sacks. KGB has developed into a better-rounded defensive lineman in 2003 as he's taken the field on every down. If he continues this progression, expect KGB to be a top 10 DL selected in next year's draft. When there's a lot on the line, I'm not sure there's a better person to have on your team than Grant Wistrom, St. Louis Rams. Wistrom is a fiery, intense competitor, and is a lock to start in Week 17 as the Rams seek to secure home field advantage for the playoffs. Against the Bengals in the dome at home, Wistrom was menacing, piling up 5 solo and 2 assisted tackles, and 2.5 sacks. Both Wistrom and Leonard Little should find spots in your roster this week as the Rams tee off on the Detroit Lions. Other DL's of note in Week 16: Michael Myers, CLE Browns and Justin Smith, CIN Bengals.

WHO'S NOT

Speaking of the Detroit Lions, they will likely be without two of their front four when they play the powerful Rams this week. Kalimba Edwards (IR - strained groin) and Robert Porcher (wrist/elbow injury), are to be spelled by James Hall and Jared DeVries, respectively. Translation: look for the pass-happy Rams offense to operate uncontested this weekend. Darrius Holland, Denver Broncos, bruised his ribs against the Colts in Week 16, and is likely to sit out Week 17 to rest up for the playoffs. Look for Dorsett Davis and Monsanto Pope to rotate at the DT position this week against the Packers.

START 'EM IF YOU GOT 'EM

Richard Seymour, NE Patriots, against the Buffalo Bills
Andre Carter, SF 49ers, against the SEA Seahawks
ND Kalu, PHI Eagles, against the WAS Redskins
Vonnie Holliday, KC Chiefs, against the CHI Bears
Justin Smith, CIN Bengals, against the CLE Browns
Greg Ellis, DAL Cowboys, against the NO Saints
Dwight Freeney, IND Colts, against the HOU Texans
Pat Kerney, ATL Falcons, against the JAX Jags
Adewale Ogunleye, MIA Dolphins, against the NY Jets
Grant Wistrom/Leonard Little, STL Rams, against the DET Lions
Simeon Rice, TB Bucs, against the TEN Titans
Julius Peppers, CAR Panthers, against the NY Giants
Michael Strahan, NY Giants, against the CAR Panthers
Kevin Williams, MIN Vikings, against the AZ Cardinals
Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila, GB Packers, against the DEN Broncos

Defensive Backs

WHO'S HOT

Greg Wesley, Kansas City Chiefs, was the benefactor of a sound beating the Minnesota Vikings gave his team in Week 16. The ball was in the defensive background with such regularity that Wesley was able to post 11 solo tackles, a sack, an interception and a forced fumble - a huge fantasy game! Wesley is a solid safety, and should find himself pre-ranked in the top 10 again in 2004. Deshea Townsend, Pittsburgh Steelers, also had a monster game in Week 16 against the Chargers. Townsend netted 8 solo and 1 assisted tackles, 2 interceptions, including one for a TD, and a fumble recovery. With the Steelers having the possible opportunity this week to knock out the nemesis Ravens from playoff contention, look for Townsend to have another fine fantasy outing. Ifeanyi Ohalete, Washington Redskins, has posted consistently solid fantasy scores in recent weeks, including a fine 10 solo and 4 assisted tackle outing against the Bears in Week 16. It is hard to pinpoint where the Redskins D has failed this year - most likely on the defensive line - but Ohalete has established himself as a legitimate IDP fantasy producer in the DB category. Other DB's of note in Week 16: Brian Russell, MIN Vikings; Ty Law, NE Patriots; Mike Minter, CAR Panthers; Michael Lewis, PHI Eagles; Adam Archuleta, STL Rams; Jay Bellamy, NO Saints; and Michael Hawthorne, GB Packers.

WHO'S NOT

Kenny Wright, Houston Texans, will miss this week's game against the Colts with a sprained MCL. Wright had seen plenty of action opposite Marcus Coleman and was producing steady fantasy numbers. The Texans are thin at DB, and Jason Bell will likely fill in for Wright. Starting CB Kelly Herndon and backup SS Nick Ferguson, Denver Broncos, will also miss the final game of the regular season with a broken hand and broken wrist, respectively, realized against the Colts. Both will be given the opportunity to heal before the playoffs, and Deltha O'Neal will spell Herndon in Week 17. The aforementioned Ifeanyi Ohalete, Washington Redskins, is done for the season with a sprained knee, and will be replaced by Todd Franz.

START 'EM IF YOU GOT 'EM

Rodney Harrison, NE Patriots, against the BUF Bills
Tony Parrish, SF 49ers, against the SEA Seahawks
Michael Lewis, PHI Eagles, against the WAS Redskins
Greg Wesley, KC Chiefs, against the CHI Bears
Robert Griffith, CLE Browns, against the CIN Bengals
Jay Bellamy, NO Saints, against the DAL Cowboys
Eric Brown, HOU Texans, against the IND Colts
Sammy Knight, MIA Dolphins, against the NY Jets
Adam Archuleta, STL Rams, against the DET Lions
Ronde Barber, TB Bucs, against the TEN Titans
Mike Minter, CAR Panthers, against the NY Giants
Brian Russell/Cory Chavous, MIN Vikings, against the AZ Cardinals
Darren Sharper, GB Packers, against the DEN Broncos
Ed Reed, BAL Ravens, against the PIT Steelers

Top 12 Team Defenses

  1. BAL Ravens vs. PIT Steelers - Ravens playing to win division
  2. NE Patriots vs. BUF Bills - NE D has been stellar and will pressure Bledsoe all day
  3. MIN Vikings vs. AZ Cardinals - MIN playing to win division
  4. STL Rams @ DET Lions - Sacks and turnovers will be plentiful
  5. CAR Panters @ NY Giants - Teams have been feasting on NYG last few weeks
  6. SF 49ers vs. SEA Seahawks - SF plays great home; SEA plays horrible away
  7. PHI Eagles @ WAS Redskins - PHI trying to sow up home field advantage
  8. MIA Dolphins vs. NY Jets - MIA D veterans will play for pride
  9. TB Bucs @ TEN Titans - Gruden will not his team roll over in final game
  10. CIN Bengals vs. CLE Browns - Bengals playing in biggest game of year
  11. DAL Cowboys @ NO Saints - Parcells will motivate team to close strong
  12. TEN Titans vs. TB Bucs - Titan D will pressure Johnson into mistakes

As always, be sure to check the latest injury reports before submitting your roster. Happy New Year, good luck and thanks for supporting The Huddle in 2003!